DePaul hosts Seton Hall after long layoff

NCAA Basketball

After having its three-game winning streak end with a thud earlier this week in a 36-point loss at No. 7 Creighton, Seton Hall looks to rebound Saturday when the Pirates visit Chicago to face DePaul.

“We’ve got to regroup,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, whose team absorbed its most one-sided defeat in his 11 seasons. “We’ve got to recover. Every once in a while, you get smacked down and you’ve got to pick yourself up. This group has done that.”

The Pirates (8-5, 5-2 Big East), who shot a season-low 33.3 percent in the 89-53 loss at Creighton, take heart from the way they have followed up previous defeats this season, winning three of the four games.

DePaul (1-2, 0-2 Big East) enters play on a two-game losing streak after being idle since a 21-point loss at Connecticut on Dec. 30. The Blue Demons shot 38.1 percent against the Huskies while going just 4-for-17 from long range and getting outrebounded 43-33.

“I don’t think we played very well at all, and all the things that we wanted to do, talked about doing and need to do in order to be successful,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.

Well-versed in COVID-19 related postponements or cancellations after navigating 10 such games to begin the season, the Blue Demons endured further disruptions to begin the calendar year as scheduled opponents St. John’s and Villanova paused their programs amid the pandemic.

Charlie Moore (16.3 points) and Javon Freeman-Liberty (13.7) lead a group of five DePaul players averaging double-figure scoring, but they are the only ones to play in each of the team’s games thus far.

For Seton Hall, leading scorer Sandro Mamukelashvili (18.3 points a game) paced the team with 14 points at Creighton while Jared Rhoden added 10.

Willard accepted blame for the loss on account of “trying to get cute” with lineups after reserve point guard Bryce Aiken re-injured his right ankle after stepping awkwardly on the foot of Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski early in the game.

Willard said he was unsure of the extent of the injury that already has sidelined Aiken for six games, adding that Jahari Long, a freshman, will be the lead backup to Shavar Reynolds at the point in the interim, moving the versatile Takal Molson off the ball.

Seton Hall swept DePaul last season, winning by eight and seven points. The Blue Demons are looking to avoid their fourth 0-3 start in conference play in the past five seasons.

–Field Level Media

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